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Student rips McDonald's over exploitation

pennsylvania u.s. state department visa costs argentina

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#1 Hum

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 14:24

A student from Argentina said he was "exploited" by a work-study program at a McDonald's franchise in Pennsylvania.

Jorge Rios, 27, came to the United States in December 2012. As part of a J-1 summer work travel program with a student work visa from the U.S. State Department, Rios said he was not paid overtime and had to be on call at all times of the day as an employee at a McDonald's near Harrisburg, Pa.

He and about 17 other foreign students say they paid around $3,000 to $4,000 for visa costs, plane tickets and other expenses.

"We have been exploited by McDonald's because we have been working for McDonald's but we did not receive overtime or the fact that we have been put to be on-call all day had to do with the way McDonald's designed our schedules," he said.

The State Department does not charge fees for people to participate in the summer work travel program, which requires jobs to be seasonal or temporary. Instead, private companies charge fees to help bring students to the U.S. as in this case.

Rios, a student at the National University of Misiones, or the Universidad Nacional de Misiones, in Posadas, Argentina, came to the U.S. during his summer in the Southern Hemisphere.

Rios complained to the State Department about the private "host" company that brought him to the U.S. A spokeswoman for the State Department said they are "investigating the situation," adding that they conduct site visits to ensure the health and safety of participants. Last summer, the State Department conducted 650 site visits in 31 states.

In the U.S. last summer, there were 73,808 people who participated in the summer work travel program, which has the goal of providing an American cultural experience to foreign students.

During the winter months, there were 8,215 program participants like Rios. In this cycle, the State Department conducted 226 site visits in 24 states so far.

Rios started a petition in partnership with the National Guestworker Alliance, asking Don Thompson, McDonald's Corporation's president and CEO, for overtime pay and to sign an agreement with the alliance to guarantee "basic labor standards" for guest workers like him.

Rios and 14 other visiting workers have staged protests at McDonald's in Pennsylvania and plan to stage a protest in New York City this week. The scheduled hours for the workers varied widely from week to week, from a few hours to 45 or 60 hours a week without overtime, they said.

"We expected to have 40 hours of work a week, but we were given as little as four hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," Rios said in the petition. "The employer knew we were desperate for more hours, and he kept us on call to come in with 30 minutes' notice all day and night. I didn't even have time to visit the public library."

A spokesman for McDonald's Corporation provided this statement: "We take the well-being of the employees working in McDonald's restaurants seriously. We are working closely with the franchisee to investigate the claims surrounding his program."

Though a host program is expected to provide housing at fair market pricing, Rios said he and the other foreign workers paid $300 a month to the owner of the McDonald's franchise to live in child-size bunk beds in a basement apartment he owned.

"As many as eight of us lived in a single basement. We slept on bunk beds made for children that shook and squeaked. We had no privacy whatsoever," he said.

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#2 Praetor

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 14:31

What? There are no Macs in Argentina for him to be exploited? :shifty:

#3 ahhell

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 14:42

So ONE franchise was the problem. :rolleyes:

#4 OP Hum

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 14:44

Sounds like things were so much better in his country. :rolleyes:

Lots of USA citizens don't even have a job.

#5 The Laughing Man

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 14:49

"minimum wage of $7.25 an hour" Really what did you think you were going to get for working at a fast food place?

#6 Sandor

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 14:59

Lots of USA citizens don't even have a job.


Which doesn't excuse mistreating or screwing over people who do happen to have a job.

The notion of "you should count yourself lucky" just doesn't apply.

#7 Praetor

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 15:11

"minimum wage of $7.25 an hour" Really what did you think you were going to get for working at a fast food place?


Please read the article:
"Rios and 14 other visiting workers have staged protests at McDonald's in Pennsylvania and plan to stage a protest in New York City this week. The scheduled hours for the workers varied widely from week to week, from a few hours to 45 or 60 hours a week without overtime, they said.

We expected to have 40 hours of work a week, but we were given as little as four hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," Rios said in the petition. "The employer knew we were desperate for more hours, and he kept us on call to come in with 30 minutes' notice all day and night. I didn't even have time to visit the public library."

if true, that's sound fishy from Mcdonalds.

#8 The Laughing Man

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 15:22

Please read the article:
"Rios and 14 other visiting workers have staged protests at McDonald's in Pennsylvania and plan to stage a protest in New York City this week. The scheduled hours for the workers varied widely from week to week, from a few hours to 45 or 60 hours a week without overtime, they said.

We expected to have 40 hours of work a week, but we were given as little as four hours a week at the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour," Rios said in the petition. "The employer knew we were desperate for more hours, and he kept us on call to come in with 30 minutes' notice all day and night. I didn't even have time to visit the public library."

if true, that's sound fishy from Mcdonalds.

I read the article, no mention of a glorious promised 10 dollars an hour or anything else.

#9 OP Hum

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 15:23

if true, that's sound fishy from Mcdonalds.


^ It would be the McDonald's franchise owner's fault -- not the corporation's.

#10 Praetor

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 15:25

^ It would be the McDonald's franchise owner's fault -- not the corporation's.


Yes, of course; these franchises are legally independent i think so.

#11 OP Hum

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 15:31

^ The corporation is still going to come down on the franchise owner, when they find out he's done something illegal.

#12 ILikeTobacco

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 15:59

^ The corporation is still going to come down on the franchise owner, when they find out he's done something illegal.

The overtime issue confuses me. Overtime is not a legal right. It is a benefit no different from something like holiday or personal leave.

#13 FloatingFatMan

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 16:03

I read the article, no mention of a glorious promised 10 dollars an hour or anything else.


They're not complaining about the hourly rate. Clearly you didn't read the article. Not properly anyway. If you had, you'd know what they were complaining about.

#14 ILikeTobacco

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 16:05

They're not complaining about the hourly rate. Clearly you didn't read the article. Not properly anyway. If you had, you'd know what they were complaining about.

"We have been exploited by McDonald's because we have been working for McDonald's but we did not receive overtime or the fact that we have been put to be on-call all day had to do with the way McDonald's designed our schedules," he said."

Not getting overtime is not exploitation and neither is being on call. Sounds like he just woke up to the harsh realities of the US fast food workforce.

#15 DKAngel

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 16:09

"We have been exploited by McDonald's because we have been working for McDonald's but we did not receive overtime or the fact that we have been put to be on-call all day had to do with the way McDonald's designed our schedules," he said."

Not getting overtime is not exploitation and neither is being on call. Sounds like he just woke up to the harsh realities of the US fast food workforce.


if i work past my 40 hrs u should be payed over time, if your put on call u should be payed overtime. being on call is an inconvinience